A federal judge's ruling that Hillary Clinton must give written testimony to a group suing for information about her use of private email was timed in such a way that the former secretary of state will likely be forced to respond before Election Day, barring unforeseen snags in the process.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan decided Friday that the conservative legal organization Judicial Watch, the plaintiff in the case, has until October 14 to present its questions for Clinton. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, she must submit her answers and any objections within 30 days of being served.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Monday that his group wouldn't wait until October 14 to release its inquiries, though it may not be able to do so as early as this week. With a month and a half of time to take action, however, the intention is that the former secretary of state will be compelled to reply in advance of November 8.
Multiple media outlets have stated that Clinton wouldn't have to do so until after the election or that the deadline doubled as the start of her countdown clock.
Lawyers had asked the court to depose Clinton in-person. Though Sullivan's order saved her the potential awkwardness of departing the campaign trail for an in-person interview, it could help buoy the matter as an election issue closer to voting—more so because a State Department IT aide who allegedly instructed doubting subordinates "never to speak of the secretary's personal email system again" will have to give his own deposition no later than October 31.
Judicial Watch was ultimately "pleased" with the court, with Fitton saying that his team would "move quickly" to obtain responses from the former secretary of state. It posed six broad questions as reasons for Clinton to testify in a July 8 court filing, characterizing her as an "indispensable witness" despite receiving information from her aides.
"[We have] attempted to obtain as much evidence as possible from other State Department officials, but Secretary Clinton is an indispensable witness and significant questions remain, including why records management officials apparently had no knowledge of the system when so many other officials used the system to communicate with her," the document reads.